Someone tweeted me recently asking me about any journals I use or think are good for anxiety. Over the years, I’ve tried to journal consistently for goal setting, emotional catharsis, mental health therapy, creative inspiration, etc. but it’s always felt a little Dear Diary to me. I love writing by hand and I obsessively buy notebooks… but, I like making LISTS in my notebooks — then getting shit done and crossing it off.
Journaling notebooks or books that give you writing prompts are way more my speed. I want something to get me thinking, I don’t want to think about what I want to think about. You know?
I am obsessed with The Happiness Planner. I got it from Anthro when I was in Seattle over Christmas and just started it. “The Happiness Planner is a tool designed to help you re-shape the way you think and to shift your focus to the positive.” The first section is writing exercises to get you to reflect on yourself and what makes you feel happy and fulfilled… The goal is to plan ahead for the next 100 days and mindfully integrate happiness habits into your daily life.
At first this sounds just like every “think positive thoughts and your life shall become it” thing you read, but after digging in I realized you completely set the parameters and define what you want more of – so the cheesy sounding “happiness habits” are custom crafted habits to integrate exactly what you know you want/need to do in your life… Probably to change or replace habits and ways of thinking/being that aren’t so great – at least that’s me as I’m doing this.
It’s so fucking satisfying to be honest about how I feel and what I want and it makes me nervous to define it but writing makes it real… It becomes tangible, and something I can achieve. Then, actually doing what’s needed for whatever I really, ACTUALLY want or how I want to feel becomes sooo much easier. I can schedule it into my life, just like I schedule meetings or yoga or any other thing. It becomes something I can cross off. Now I’m looking forward to all of the new gold stars I’ll earn with myself from doing these little happiness habits and then checking them off my to-do list. I don’t know if that undermines the entire point behind it, but it keeps me going back so I’m rolling with it.
I’ve already written a post on why I love the lowkey 5 Minute Journal, so peep it if you haven’t. It’s 5 minutes a day/night and it’s an easy way to keep track of how well you followed through with yourself on the day, plus you write a positive affirmation and there are great quotes on each page. Totally recommend — I’m on my second. It helps keep me in perspective when I get super in my head and focused on the things I still have to do and makes me pause to realize what I have gotten done.
As far as specific journals FOR anxiety, I’m So Freaking Freaked Out is probably the only one I’ve tried that is specifically geared towards anxiety. It’s a journal notebook where each day you use it, it prompts you to tell it “why I’m so freaking freaked out today.” It also has reassuring, anxiety reducing quotes which don’t always help when I’m actually freaking the fuck out, but I appreciate the thought. My mom sent it to me in a care package after I had a panic attack and I actually laughed at how hysterical it was, EXCEPT NOW I TOTALLY USE IT… I’d much rather have an anxiety journal than have an anxiety attack, ya know?
Let It Out is a GREAT book I have by Katie Dalebout that has journaling exercises, prompts, and techniques that help shift your perspective and have helped me better manage anxiety and stress… Now that I’m thinking about it, I should probably revisit this one as life has been high stress lately. It’s reflective, creative, cathartic, and realistic – I really enjoyed reading/doing this book. She’s about journaling for anything, so this would be great for anyone who wants a guided journal that will kick them in the ass.
One of my faaaaves is The Desire Map by Danielle LaPorte. It’s half book, half journal. She also has Desire Map planners on her site (linked above) which I haven’t tried, because I already have a planner and many notebooks and lists, but I want to at some point before I die. Has anyone tried? LMK in the comments what you thought if you have. This book literally scared me at first. It was too loud. I was not feeling sure of myself at the time I got this and what it was asking me to do and think about was SCARY. Doing the workbook gave me anxiety at first! This was the first journal that forced me to think about and define what I really want. It was what made the whole “if I write this down, it’s real and then I can break it down and actually do it” thing real for me at first. Would highly recommend.
Hopefully these titles are new and exciting — do you guys have any to add to the list? Which ones have you tried? Do you do any form of journaling or goal setting regularly? Talk to me.
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